Do not try to deny that when you hear the word “Naples” you automatically think of pizza. That’s fine, they have the best in the world, but not considering its coffee would be a mistake. Here are a few tips for ordering coffee in Naples:
Coffee in Naples: Utter But One Word
Ordering coffee is sacred. Don’t ruin it by asking for a Gingerbread Latte with whipped cream on top. Italians order coffee using one single word: a caffè is a strong, short shot of espresso (do not ask for an “espresso” as it’s just a technical term for Italians). An americano is an espresso with added hot water. A shakerato is an espresso with ice and sugar that has been shaken and not steamed. A caffè corretto is an espresso that had been “corrected” with some grappa or another type of liquor. And last but not least, caffè alla nocciola, an espresso with hazelnut cream that you can find only in Naples.
Coffee in Naples: Milk is For Mornings
Neapolitans have perfected the art of converting milk to rich, velvety foam. That’s why you should definitely try a macchiato, an espresso with a drop of steamed milk; a cappuccino, an espresso topped with warm frothy milk with an optional sprinkling of cacao; or a caffè latte, a glass of warm milk with a drop of coffee in it (nota bene: do not ask for a latte, as that means milk in Italian; unless you’d like a glass of milk before bedtime, we’d suggest steering clear).
If you want to act as an Italian, be sure to order these types of coffee before noon, as they consider drinking hot milk after eating detrimental to digestion.
Coffee in Naples: Standing Only
You’ll never see Italians order coffee to go or lounge around in cafes for hours. Coffee represents a break and it’s a sacred moment. Enter into the coffee shop and proceed directly to al banco (the bar). Order your coffee, drink the glass of water they serve you before the coffee (as it’s meant to cleanse your palate), drink your coffee, eat a sfogliatella (a famous, marvelously flakey Neapolitan pastry) while standing at the bar, pay at the register, and say “grazie e buona giornata” (thank you, have a nice day). As simple as that.
Coffee in Naples: Final Tips
In some bars, you must pay for your coffee up front at the register, then present your receipt to the barista before ordering.
Coffee is inexpensive in Italy; Neapolitans will never pay more than €1 for coffee. Thus, if you’re paying more, you’re probably in a café targeted to tourists.
Our favorite spot is the famous Gambrinus Caffè, Via Chiaia, 1/2, 80132 Napoli.
For more tips, see our guide to visiting Naples.